The Profile of a Hall Of Famer: Reece ‘Goose’ Tatum

On August 12th, the Naismith Hall of Fame will induct the class of 2011.  Members of this year’s class include Chris Mullin, Dennis Rodman, Artis Gilmore, Tara VanDerveer, Teresa Edwards, Arvydas Sabonis, Herb Magee, Tom “Satch” Sanders, Tex Winter, and Reece “Goose” Tatum. Over the next couple weeks leading up to the induction ceremony, we will be profiling members of this year’s class.  Click here for Tex Winter, Reece “Goose Tatum is below.

Reece “Goose” Tatum played professional baseball with Satchel Paige, served in the Air Force during World War II, played thirteen seasons with the Harlem Globetrotters from 1941 to 1955, made the first ever Globetrotters television broadcast an unprecedented success, revolutionized the way the game of basketball was played, invented the freaking hook shot, served as a worldwide ambassador of basketball, did all this during the Civil Rights Movement Era, and now he’s going into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.  What have you done with your life so far besides hitting that double in your co-ed softball game last night? 


Which is why I chose to post this tremendously awesome video of Goose Tatum and his Harlem Globetrotters doing work in 1955 instead of your head first slide into second base.  Everyone should do themselves a favor and watch this video, the Goose was incredible:

Hat Tip: HalGreer15


As you heard the announcer say in the highlight reel, they called Goose the “Clown Prince” of the Globetrotters, and he is still considered one of the greatest showmen in the history of sports.  While he was entertaining, he did also have some serious game as well that shouldn’t be overlooked amidst the theatrics.  He was 6’3″ but he had an “arm span” of 84″, and matched up favorably in the “pivot” with seven foot centers from NBA by capitalizing on his athleticism and creativity with the basketball.  What most people probably dismiss these days when they hear “Globetrotters” is the fact that back in the late ’40’s and early ’50’s teams did play the ‘Trotters in an attempt to win the game as Herm Edwards once said.  Sure there were some antics, intentional traveling, and fake ball tricks, but teams did compete against Goose and his squad back in the day and Tatum did drop sixty on them in response with regularity.  

The other aspect of how spectacular Goose and his guys were with the basketball is that we’ve seen a lot of these moves before – we have, people from 2011 – and I was still completely entertained and amazed when I first watched this clip last night.  I can only imagine what people thought when they first saw Goose Tatum and his ‘Trotters breaking out this demonstration of basketball wizardry for the first time – ever.  Which is probably why they played to a packed house back in those days, and also probably why two NBA teams would play the back-end of a double header – with Goose’s Globetrotters headlining the event in game one – in hopes that some of those Globetrotter fans would stick around and actually watch the NBA game afterwards. 

Goose was funny to be sure too – I especially liked the football play he orchestrated in the video where they got into a stance at the line of scrimmage, called offsides, marched five more yards down the floor, and then tried a field goal – but they beat teams like the Lakers playing straight up as well.  The influence that his Globetrotter teams had on the way basketball is played today is so intertwined with everything we know the NBA to be today too, it’s only right that he’s set to receive this Hall of Fame honor in a couple weeks.  Especially so when you consider that the all-time leading scorer in NBA history scored about seventy percent of his points by using a shot that Goose Tatum invented. The only shame is that it couldn’t have come forty-four years ago, before Goose passed away in 1967 at the age of forty-five.

Tatum had already been recognized by the Naismith Hall of Fame through the induction of the Harlem Globetrotters Team, but now he joins Marques Haynes and Meadowlark Lemon as the three only players to play primarily for the ‘Trotters to be inducted individually.  Other former Globetrotters include Wilt Chamberlain, Connie Hawkins, and Lynette Woodward, but they wore the proverbial hats of the NBA on their respective ways through the Hall of Fame doors.  The Civil Rights Movement Era in which Goose rose to prominence as an African American celebrity and public figure shouldn’t be discounted either with respect to his efforts.  That had to make the smile he made famous difficult to wear some days, and he opened a lot of doors with respect to what he did and how he did it.  He changed a lot of opinions, left an ever-lasting impact on the game of basketball, and I think the newly formed Early African American Pioneers of the Game Committee for the Naismith Hall of Fame got off to as good a start possibly by making  Goose Tatum their first selection.  

He said once his goal in life was to make people laugh, and he certainly did that.  Only that’s not all Reece “Goose” Tatum did, and that’s why he’s a Hall of Famer.  Shouts out to the Goose, long overdue sir.

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About Brendan Bowers

I am the founding editor of I am also a content strategist and social media manager with Electronic Merchant Systems in Cleveland. My work has been published in SLAM Magazine, KICKS Magazine, The Locker Room Magazine,,, and elsewhere. I've also written a lot of articles that have been published here.